On Weight Loss

Ah, yes, the subject of weight loss. What woman hasn’t spent a good portion of her life dealing with this? Not many. After having two kids, I realized something. My weight was up. I know, how could I not notice? I’ve always been a very active person. Being a competitive figure skater, a distance runner and a frequent visitor to my local gym, you’d think I would have nothing to worry about. Um, wrong.

I’ve often joked that I’m not the type of person who can just work out and eat whatever they want. It’s so unfair. I once ran 8 miles and stepped on the scale the next day to see that I’d actually gained weight. ARG!

I was always afraid of never losing the last of the baby weight. I knew my weight was up higher than I would’ve liked, but I figured it was only 5 pounds or so. Um, wrong again.

Then I was looking at pictures of our amazing family trip to Disneyworld in February and I was like, “oof.” There was no denying it.

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Oof. Upon further investigation when we returned home, I realized I was up a good 10-15 pounds from before getting pregnant with Riley in 2009. Not. Cool.

The stars seemed to align when I saw a Groupon for Weight Watchers Online for $20 for two months. Twenty bucks? I could give it a go for twenty bucks. I checked with my sister and she agreed to do it with me. The results.

It works.

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I’ve lost 14 pounds since April and I can’t believe how easy it was. Not easy easy. But easier than I thought it would be. So easy that I wish I had done it three years ago right after Charlotte was born. My sister has lost 40 pounds and is still losing! Her goal is to hit 100 pounds. Talk about life changing.

For me, the key was realizing what a portion size is. Hint – it’s much smaller than you think. So tracking what I ate with the app on my phone all day, every day just became a habit. Yes, it was kind of a pain, but I learned so much from doing it, that it was worth it. And seeing 1-2 pounds fall off every week was sooooo motivating.

Right now, I’m just working on maintaining what I’ve lost and staying at this normal weight forever. No, I’m not “skinny” but that’s fine by me. That’s never been my goal and never will be my goal. But if I can drop a pant size and do a double take when I catch my reflection in a store window, that’s really all I need.

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Charlotte’s Frozen Birthday Party

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When our Frozen-obsessed daughter asked for a Frozen party for her third birthday, I was a smidge disappointed. I love going DIY for the kids’ birthday parties and I felt like if we did a canned birthday like Frozen, it would be a little well, boring for me. But in this Pinterest age, I should’ve known that I’d be able to find cute crafty-type things to make it seem a little more homemade.

And I will say that it is pretty sweet to head to Target three days before the party and buy all the plates, tablecloths and even paper crowns in one simple trip. Now I see why people do these type of parties.

We held the party for family in our backyard. My husband had just finished building a ginormous 400 square foot deck, so the party doubled as a deck-breaking-in party as well.

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The birthday girl had one request – an Elsa dress WITH A CAPE. Thankfully I found this one with a sheer cape velcroed to the back. Since the party, she has been trying to get that cape to stick to just about every shirt she has. Life is better with a cape, obvi.

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We got Pinterest-y with the food. See above for the “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?” station, white chocolate covered strawberries for Frozen Hearts, blue candy melt marshmallows as Elsa’s Icicles and Blue Hawaiian punch with pineapple juice and white soda which became Anna’s Frozen Punch. The rest of the menu included cold cuts for a sandwich bar, fruit and a bunch of salads.

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The punch was a hit.

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But I would say the biggest hit of all were these water balloons. I had seen the “Watch Out for my Butt” sign on Pinterest, and my graphic designer husband Photoshopped it to look like big bro Riley had turned into Olaf. Also, apparently it’s nearly impossible to find actual white waterballoons. So I just bought regular white balloons and figured we’d be fine. Well, you can probably see where this is going. They were virtually impossible to break. Slamming them on the concrete patio, squeezing them with all our might, nothing worked. HIlarity ensued. The finale was my 89-year old grandpa finally getting one to break, right over my head, while I cowered in fear. From my 89-year old grandpa with a water balloon. Good times.

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I was kind of disappointed with how my two-tired Blue Velvet cake turned out. I wrapped it in Frozen ribbon and put Anna and Elsa on top, along with blue sanding sugar, but I just thought it looked a little meh. But when Charlotte saw her cake, she gasped and squealed and asked if it was for her. The birthday girl loved it? Sold. Perfect. Donesies.

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3

Dear Charlotte,

It has officially been three years since you were born and I heard your daddy exclaim, “Is it a GIRL? It’s a GIRL!!” as you entered the world. To say we were shocked and thrilled would be an understatement. In three short years you have brought more joy, love and happiness to our lives than we thought possible. IMG_4748

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We used to joke that we hit the jackpot when we had Riley, but with you, we know we are equally lucky and we are equally grateful. You haven proven to be an opinionated, independent little girl. Which means there have been some tantrums this year. They’re almost comical – you stomping your foot with an emphatic “NO!” And then you calmly looking at us to see what our reaction will be.

The one thing I will remind you of over and over when you’re older is what a crappy sleeper you have always been. Seriously. Ever since you outgrew infanthood, you decided that sleep is not something you’re interested in. I still get up with you almost every night. Last night was THREE TIMES! Seriously. You don’t need anything. Other than a hug from your beloved mommy. But you magically nap like a dream for your daddy every day while I’m at work. Figures.

Xmas came and went and now we can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

Few things in life have made me as happy as seeing the relationship between you and your brother. As we imagined, he’s been your protector, your BFF, your irritator and well, your favorite person. No matter what he’s eating or what treat he gets, he automatically asks for a second one for you. He’s got your back. Since birth he has called you “Goo Gee.” Like most good nicknames, none of us remember where that name came from, but it has stuck and we all call you Goo Gee. Another thing to tease you about when you’re older of course. But in reality, we’ll probably still call you Goo Gee on your wedding day.

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You idolize your big brother, that’s for sure. If he’s riding his bike, you want to ride your bike. If he’s playing Thomas trains, you want to play, too. It is rare not to hear you exclaim, “Rah-leeee!” in either happiness, attention-seeking or in anger. A perfect brother-sister duo.

I couldn’t have hand-picked a better daughter. You’re hilarious, independent, opinionated, equal parts girly and tom-boy. You’re perfect. Even when you’re stomping your foot and waking me up at 3 a.m.

Driving the boat.

I love you so, my sweet little girl.

Happy birthday.

Love, Mommy

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Tap, tap, tap

Last fall I started taking a tap dancing class. Yes, I am the queen of weird hobbies and it just made sense to start tapping. One of my friends and I had talked about taking a tap class for years and we finally found an adult, beginners class, so we signed up.

For the last six months I’ve been tapping every Thursday night all leading up to last week’s recital. I was reluctant to do it, especially because my friend couldn’t participate in the recital. Her husband was just living his dream running the Boston Marathon, so she thought her tapping should take second billing. Whatevs.

Anyway, I had to embark on the recital without my sidekick and with some older ladies. I was the youngest in the class by probably 10 years, but everyone was so nice and welcoming. They had all taken the class last year, so they knew what they were doing more than I was.

Recital day came, I put on my red sequinned halter top, and I was not really even nervous. Probably because it was too ridiculous for a 36 year old mother of two and to be nervous about a tap dancing recital. What?

I’m happy to report everything went great and even though I was blinded by the stage lights, I could see two tiny hands waving to me from the middle of the theater. I waved back, which you’re totally not supposed to do, but whatever. I wanted them to know that I saw them, that I knew they were proud of me and that even when you’re a grown up, you can still do the fun things you want to do.

According to Derek, Riley was squealing and squirming in the seat before my class took the stage. He said he was so excited to see me dance. That’s what I want them to tell stories about when they’re older. I want them to forget the times I raise my voice, or give them PB&Js for dinner and the dog hair tumbleweed that just may be rolling across our living room right now.

I want them to remember that their old mom did fun things because she wanted to do them. That it may even be kind of ….cool? Inspiring? Goofy? All of the above?

Either way, I had lots of hugs and “you were awesomes” afterwards and it felt great.


P.S. This little boy yelled to a girl in a different class that performed before mine, “You’re beautiful and I want to marry you!” We’re going to be in trouble with that one…

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Riley’s Robot Party

For his 6th birthday (how is he THAT old??), Riley requested a robot party. And I was secretly pleased because I had been looking at cute robot party ideas on Pinterest and was happy I’d get to try some of them out. We decided to do a Friday night friend party at an indoor play place and then have a smaller family party on Saturday. Since I had to work all day Friday, I kept it simple with a few store-bought decorations (the horror!) and some cupcakes. Made from a box mix (NOOOOO!). That week was so crazy for me, I actually had to bake his birthday cupcakes over my lunch hour. This working mom thing is no joke.

But by Friday night, seeing the look on this little boy’s face made everything worth it.

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It’s not a kid party if all the kids aren’t swarming around the gift opening.

He was so tired, he actually fell asleep in the car on the 10 minute drive home.

The family party arrived and I still had a lot to do. Like make the crown jewel of the party – the robot cake. I had found it on Pinterest, of course, and it actually didn’t take long at all. Like I probably frosted and decorated it within 30 minutes. Maybe less.

Riley played in his room while I worked in the kitchen and then I called him out to come take a look. I think he liked it.

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Oh, that face….

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The feet are leftover cupcakes from the party the night before. I found metallic sprinkles at Michaels and they came in gold, silver and black and I can’t wait to find more fun uses for them. The little colored robots are crayons that I ordered on Etsy and were the gift for Riley’s friends to take home from him party. Using mini-chocolate donuts, M&Ms, Oreos and a red sucker as a blinking light on top, this was one of the cutest and easiest cakes I’ve ever made.

IMG_9238One set of grandparents couldn’t make it to the party until later and after waiting what felt like forever, the birthday boy was a little restless. A quick Google search for robot party games led me to this. Using his grabber, we pretended it was a robot arm and had party-goers see who could pick up the robot crayons the fastest. Surprisingly entertaining, especially when we made everyone use their left hands.

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His favorite gift from this party was a Disney Parks K’nex set of his beloved Dumbo ride. My mom found this on Amazon and I didn’t even know it existed. It has a working motor and little tourists that can go in the ride. This little boy was very happy.

All in all, a great 6th birthday party for my big man!

 

 

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My Top Tips for Doing Disney with Little Kids

Disney is no joke, people. In my experience, this isn’t a vacation that prides itself on being spontaneous and go-with-the-flow. If you’re going to Disney, you need to be prepared ahead of time. We were there for 5 days in February with our 2 year old and 5 year old. As nervous as I was to take this big vacation with our kids, it turned out great and was worth every bit of money and effort. And believe me, it was a lot of both.

So here are my tips for traveling to Disney World with small children.

1. pack food! Don’t waste time or money in the morning by going out to breakfast. If your kids are like mine, a bowl of cereal or a bagel and a banana is all they really want anyway. We checked one suitcase and it was filled with breakfast foods. Those little boxes of sugary cereals you don’t normally buy? They’re a perfect vacation breakfast treat. Horizon Organic makes milk boxes that don’t require refrigeration before they’re opened, so I packed them in zip-locks and threw them into the suitcase. This way, we were up and out the door early enough without having to stop off for breakfast on the way to the parks. Oh and don’t forget to pack snacks (I mean, really, what mom would?) We actually didn’t go through as many snacks as I thought we would because since it was vacation and all, we let the kids get the Mickey-shaped ice cream bar, popcorn, or whatever they wanted in the parks.

2. Let them nap when and where they can. I had read a bunch of things online about leaving the parks to head back to your hotel in the afternoon to allow for nap time. Great idea in theory, but logistically, I didn’t think it was worth it. We stayed at the Art of Animation, one of the Disney resorts, and for some lucky reason, the bus stop for that resort always seemed to be the farthest away. Not to mention how huge the resort is and that we had to walk what felt like miles to get to our hotel room. We would’ve eaten up the majority of the afternoon if we had gone to the bus stop, waited for our bus, walked to our room, let our girl nap/rest, pack everything back up, walk back to the bus stop, wait for the bus and head back to the parks. No thanks. So what did we do? In Magic Kingdom, there is a real, working steam train that travels the perimeter of the parks. It makes three different stops but you can ride it as long as you like. We rode that baby for about an hour while Charlotte napped in the crook of her daddy’s arm. Riley, our 5 year old, even splayed out on the seat with his head in my lap for some down time of his own. It was a great break for us adults too, since we welcomed a chance to get off our feet for a while. (According to my Fitbit, I walked about 20,000 steps every day we spent at one of the parks!)

She snuggled into the crook of Daddy's arm and that was it.

She snuggled into the crook of Daddy’s arm and that was it.

3. Don’t think 2 is too young for Disney. How many times have you heard someone asking why you would bring such a young child on a memorable trip that they will not remember? There are lots of reasons to bring your 2 year old to Disney, in my opinion, so listen up. First of all, kids under 3 are free to get into the parks. That’s savings of $93/day. Woohoo! Second of all, kids this age love Disney movies, which means they love seeing their favorite characters. Luckily, my girl was happy enough to see Anna, Elsa and all the others in the Disney parades so we didn’t have to wait 2 hours to meet them in person. Disney is a magical place, especially for 2 year olds. And it’s a little easier financially to bring young ones than older ones. Besides, now that you’ve experienced Disney with your kids, you know they’re going to keep asking you to take them back. So if your little ones don’t remember their first time, they’ll remember their second time. Besides, you’ll have amazing pictures like this:

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4. Stock up at the Dollar Store. All the blogs and Pinterest articles will tell you this and they’re not kidding. The most important thing to stock up on in my opinion is ponchos, glow sticks for fireworks and cheapie toys to entertain them on the airplane.

5. Buy souvineers. I admit it, I am a cheapskate. But vacation is different. When my son asked and asked for a talking, $30 Buzz Lightyear at Hollywood Studios, I didn’t hesitate. He hugged it and held it for the rest of the trip. He’ll always remember that we got him that at a kiosk outside Pizza Planet, and I will too. Yes, I probably could’ve bought it at Target for $10 cheaper, but that is not what vacation is about. This is what it’s about:

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6. No pressure. Yes, my 5-year old who is obsessed with race cars and outer space was tall enough to ride Test Track and Mission Space. But did he want to? NOPE. Would he have loved it? Probably. But those rides seemed scary to him and, in the spirit of fun, we didn’t make our normally-cautious boy ride anything he didn’t want to. The last thing we wanted was to end our day at a park with someone in tears. Or, you know, scarred for life.

7. Cancel your dining reservations. Three months before our trip I made lunch reservations at one of the sit-down restaurants in Magic Kingdom. I had heard horror stories about having to eat a cold hot dog balancing on a curb because no restaurants will seat you without a reservation. The day before we headed to Magic Kingdom, I looked at a map. Between the times we had reserved for FastPass and this lunch reservation, we would be running like maniacs from the Dumbo ride to the restaurant. No thank you. Vacation is about fun! And while Disney is not the place to be spontaneous, I didn’t want to be a slave to a clock. So I cancelled the (expensive) sit-d0wn restaurant and the kids ate grilled cheese with us at a table we wiped down ourselves. It was fine! Kids this young don’t care what they’re eating. They want to get back to the fun. And actually, so did we!

8. Pass on the Memory Maker photo package. I’m surprised to be saying this one. I went back and forth and talked to everyone I could about whether or not to purchase the $169 photo package ($199 if you purchase on-site). Again, trying to make our time at the parks more spontaneous and less rigid, I didn’t want the pressure of getting to every photographer we could so we would have enough great photos to make the investment worth it. Plus, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Those Disney photographers? They’re more than happy to take the same exact photo with your camera or phone, or both, like ours did. Score!

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9. Do a character meal. I know, I said not to make dining reservations, but this is the one caveat. We ALMOST bailed on the 9 a.m. breakfast I had reserved for us with characters at a different resort. Since the Art of Animation doesn’t offer this, I found a character breakfast buffet at a different resort. Which meant getting up early, taking a bus to Hollywood Studios, then taking a boat to the resort. That’s a LOT of effort. We were so close to bailing. Honestly, the main reason we didn’t bail is because they woul’dve charged our family of 4 $40 for cancelling the day of. No way! We woke the kids, left without showering, and met Minnie for breakfast! Looking back, it was one of the most fun, memorable moments of the trip. For all of us. It was work, but it was worth it. I mean, look!

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10. Trust. Disney World is not the No. 1 vacation spot in the world for nothing. They know what they’re doing. Trust that you will get to your destination and be well-taken care of. That’s why you’re giving them all that money. And yes, it’s worth every penny. Now to start saving for the next trip…

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6

Dear Riley,

Today you turn six years old. I want to document what you are like as a little boy so I can look back on this when you’re older and weep dramatically.

camping6As you can see from the photo above, you are a happy little boy who is a joy to be around. Yes, I’m your mom so I’m biased, but seriously, everyone feels this way about you. You make people happy.

You’re a sensitive boy who wants everyone to be his friend. This year you started a K5/1st grade class. I was nervous about you being in a class with “older” kids because I knew you’d want everyone to be your friend and some 7 year olds don’t want to be friends with a 5 year old. You’ve continually impressed us, though. You’re smart, you’re tough and you’re a good friend. I hope you never lose any of these qualities.

Goofy BFFs

Goofy BFFs

You’ve always loved your big brother role to Charlotte but lately we’ve seen that mature. You tell us if she’s doing something you know she shouldn’t and now you try to explain to her why she shouldn’t do something we wouldn’t approve of. You are her lifelong protector and buddy and really, you have been from day one. She’s a lucky girl.

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You LOVE your family. Just this week you came home with artwork you made in art class with “I love my mommy” randomly written across it. These little signs of love from you are not rare but they still make me smile every single time. You are a rare, special little boy and I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are mine.

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I love you to infinity and beyond, buddy.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

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